What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a process that takes place outside of court; its goal is to replace conflict with consensus. In the mediation process, you and your spouse or co-parent meet with a neutral third party (the mediator) and decide what arrangements are best for you and--most importantly--your children. The mediator does not make decisions for you. Instead, as a mediator, Margaret will help you work through issues so you can end your marriage or implement your parenting plan as amicably and cost effectively as possible.
Mediation is confidential. Parties are free to share their thoughts in a safe environment.
Mediation is voluntary. It continues only for so long as all three of us - you, your spouse, and the mediator -- want it to. Mediation sessions can be conducted weekly, every two weeks, or monthly, depending on what works best for you.
The issues resolved typically include:
1. Distribution of Property (Assets/Liabilities)
2. Child Custody and Parenting Time
3. Child Support/Maintenance
What Does the Mediator Do?
It is Margaret’s job during the mediation process to keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas, and assist you in your decision making process. She will walk you through the topics that need to be addressed and will help keep you focused on the issues at hand. She will also provide assistance drafting the documents necessary to finalize your agreement.
When hired as a mediator, Margaret doesn't represent either party. She does, however, help both of you understand the law so you can make fully informed decisions. She assists the couple in arriving at agreements that serve the interests of both parties and their children. The parties are encouraged to have the final documents reviewed by their own attorneys.
How Long Does Mediation Take?
Sometimes agreements come easily, sometimes they take a lot of time and a lot of work. We will meet on a regular basis for about two hours at a stretch until we have reached resolution. The number of sessions depends entirely on how many issues must be resolved and how willing you and the other party are to come to agreement.
Why Would I Choose to Mediate?
A Nolo Press article sums up the benefits of mediation as follows:
- Mediation is much less expensive than a court trial or a series of hearings.
- Most mediations end in a settlement of all of the issues in your divorce.
- Mediation is confidential, with no public record of what goes on in your sessions.
- Mediation allows you to arrive at a resolution based on your own ideas of what is fair in your situation, rather than having a solution imposed upon you based on rigid and impersonal legal principles.
- You can still have a lawyer give you legal advice if you wish.
- You and your spouse -- not the court -- can control the process.
- The mediation process can improve communication between you and your spouse, helping you avoid future conflicts.
How Do I Get Started?
If you are interested in mediation, call Margaret’s office at 406-442-2012. Margaret will have a confidential telephone call with each party individually to explain the process, her role, and to answer your questions. If you and your spouse would both like to pursue mediation, Margaret will ask you to provide information and to sign an agreement about the mediation process. We will schedule a meeting, and begin work toward resolution.